Monday, May 14, 2007

Well...why not?

Fr. Finigan posts about a story in the Catholic Times where two schools have been chastised for allowing students to serve at Mass during school hours. Mind you, of course, this is a venerable tradition that goes well back in history.

When I was a small boy, we took it in turns to walk round from school to serve Mass. It was actually a very educational experience. We learned about being given the responsibility to get ourselves there and back without messing around: going to serve Mass was a privilege we didn't want to lose. We learned to respect the different priests of St Mary's in Croydon. And of course, we learned to love the Mass and the care of the altar and the sacristy. I thank God that the "curriculum" was not such an idol then.
Exactly. It is high time we restore some sanctity and reverence to and for those who serve at the altar. I find absolutely nothing wrong with allowing kids who are doing well already in school and who properly fulfill their roles as altar servers to periodically scoot over to the church to serve. Particularly in the case of schools attached to parishes or sufficiently close to them as to not pose a safety risk. Our parish and kids' school would be a prime opportunity for this - a quick jaunt from the school to the church across the parking lot and the children could be available to serve for funerals or any other mid-day need.

By tying their opportunity to serve Mass to their attaining and maintaining good grades, the children would also see serving as a rewarding experience, which can help build respect for the task required in those who need it and reinforce it for children who already understand the great gift that is serving at the altar. And just maybe a few of them would see the gift that serving at the altar is and just maybe it would tickle in them an interest in the priesthood. It would, in a way, be a Catholic variant of the "senior privilege" many schools offer to seniors who maintain a certain GPA - they can come in late, leave early, leave the campus or any variety of other treats. This treat just happens to come with a spiritual uplift as well - the opportunity to serve at the altar and receive Christ in the Eucharist. And learn some responsibility along the way as well. I wonder what our pastor thinks about this...